A community of diverse voices, Elsa Blyth
15 April, 2021
Somewhere a cleaner is a collection of poems and stories. It tells the stories of cleaners, people who clean for a living and people who clean their houses every once and a while. From people who love cleaning to people who have to do it; in offices, marae, houses, hospitals, skyscrapers.
Somewhere a cleaner sheds light on cleaners, a profession that is usually forgotten or dismissed, and shows how important the occupation is, especially in these times.
I personally think this book is much needed; I usually never think about cleaning, how much has to be done to help society function. It’s also really interesting to hear the stories of these people, and where they came from. These stories and poems are all so different and diverse like the people written about in them. All the people are in New Zealand but they bring all the places they’ve been into the collection so you feel like you’re seeing all over the world.
There were so many poems and stories in this book, so I can only talk about a few. One of the poems I thoroughly enjoyed was My Journey by Mele Peana. This poem was one of the first in the book and it was a roaring start. This piece sounds like it should be shouted from the top of a roof, yelled to a group of rallying people through a microphone. This poem highlights the author’s past and tells the story of the future, a future where cleaning is not looked down upon and belittled.
Another poem I enjoyed was Vintage by Kate Railton-Jacks. What I really liked about this poem are the stories the author stitches to all the different pieces of clothing; how the items seem ordinary but still beautiful with the stories that come with them. You can almost smell the fabric and see the little details they are describing.
I also liked Brooms by Ziu Tua Freshwater, which is telling the reader about the different types of brooms the storyteller made in their home country, and how that changed when they moved. I like how the narrator explains a mundane thing that is used every day, and gives it a story and shows how they remembered this broom throughout their life.
I like how this book brings together so many different voices; there are stories that tell and poems that bring insight and meaning, and much more. You couldn’t sum this book up in one word: all these people are different, and all their stories are diverse and personal. Somewhere a cleaner is a good way to show that cleaning isn’t black and white; it’s lots of colours, for different people, people who see cleaning as something they need to do, a job, and people who enjoy cleaning, enjoy the simplicity and find stories in their work. I think of cleaning differently now, with a new perspective – not just mine, but a whole community of peoples’.
- Elsa is 15 and lives in Kapiti.